It wasn't the ideal day for Bay Area mixed martial arts, as Jake Shields of Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu found himself slipping further away from getting back at a shot for welterweight gold, losing in the first round to Jake Ellenberger by way of TKO in the main event at UFC Fight Night 25: Shields vs. Ellenberger. Shields started off the fight looking for a pawing jab and attempted to get the fight to the mat or up against the cage, as is his specialty as a wrestler. Ellenberger is no slouch himself in that regard, he shrugged off the takedowns and went for a couple one-two punch combinations, before landing big on Shields with a knee. Shields started to crumple and Ellenberger pulled him down into another knee and that was, how you say, that.
Ellenberger swarmed and landed two huge shots on the side of the head of the turtling Shields, who managed to get a hand up and in the way to block off a couple more, but was doing nothing to improve his position at all and referee Kevin Mulhall jumped in to stop the fight. Shields was so out of it that he tried to grab a single leg on the referee, who was able to stuff it, to his credit. Officially, Ellenberger gets a TKO at 53 seconds of the very first round of action.
It was the perfect result for Ellenberger, a strong wrestler in his own right, but one who prefers to strike to set up a grinding attack in the later rounds. The gameplan going in was one of "sprawl-and-brawl," and that's exactly what he did: stuffed the takedowns and found Shields' chin. Ellenberger has been waiting to crack into the upper echelon of the UFC's welterweight division, with his last two opponents bailing for bigger fights after being scheduled.
While the loss doesn't necessarily hurt Bay Area MMA, the San Francisco-based Shields will need to go back to the drawing board. At the very least, Ellenberger is based in Lake Forest, California ... so at least we're keeping a rising star in-state. Next for Ellenberger would be the very best the division has to offer: guys like BJ Penn, Jon Fitch, Nick Diaz - all of the guys who necessitate a potential shot at champion Georges St. Pierre. For Shields, a step down and some work on his always-shaky standup is required.